In a recent post on the twowritingteachers Betsy Hubbard wrote:
When we allow students to be the captain of their own ship and stand back a little they see themselves as a learner, a reader, a writer. Step back. Watch them sail into new adventures and take themselves on new journeys forward.
Possibly the biggest challenge we have in the media center is limited time with students. I only see each class once every four days. Time limitation conflict with my goals to provide students with time to develop and explore the different literacies (technology, visual, reading, writing) as well as time to practice 21st Century skills: communicating, creating, critical thinking, and collaborating. That is a lot to pack in a short period.
Since it is important for students to have time to work on projects, teachers need to talk less and empower them more. For example, as we explore new technology, I sometimes feel compelled to show everything about an app or program, which takes away from their practice time. But, a change I made this year that has allowed me to reduce the amount of time I spend teaching. The change: I’ve begun to share student work more.
Publishing student work has made it possible for me to teach less with more impact, because students teach and learn from each other. Some examples of times that students learned from each other are:
- a second grade student asked a friend how he uploaded an avatar on the class blog.
- a third student said he really liked his classmate’s iMovie. but the font was too small and it was hard to hear the speaker.
- almost everyone in grade 4 noticed how well the words and picture went together on a student’s biography iMovie project.
- a 5th grader asked if she could redo her own iMovie project after she watched another students incredible iMovie book talk.
I am finding that setting up an environment where student work is shared is better for student learning. It sparks interest and questions. They begin to define what is important for them to learn and practice. They begin to own their learning. They think critically about the work of other and reflect on their own.. Students naturally ask each other how to do things that they admire in each other projects and feedback is more powerful that a letter grade. Finally, sharing work allows us to move toward the collaborative environment that we want to create.
The Media Center is a place of discovery and inquiry and sharing student work helps us attain that goal.
In a recent post on ruthayreswrites, Ruth lists 25 Reasons why people don’t write and 25 things to do about it. Some of the reasons on the first list that jumped out at me are:
- No audience
- No purpose
- No feedback
- Never talk about the writing process
Ruth suggests that in order to become writers, students need to
- 1. Write
- 2. Read
- 3. Talk
Yesterday, I was talking to a 5th grade teacher at my school about reasons to set up a blog for students in her classroom. It occurred to me that a blog is a perfect place for students to do exactly what Ruth suggests – write, read and talk about writing.
Write –Writing on a blog is fun for students and they want to write more. Elementary students are not legally old enough to participate in the online world. Although many do, they are not even supposed to have email accounts until they are 13. Nonetheless, they are eager to have an online presence and we can take advantage of their excitement to increase the amount of writing that they do.
Read – A student can learn to be better writers by reading how another classmate responded to an assignment or prompt given by the teacher. Reading other student’s work helps them to critically think about what to do and what not to do. Additionally, teachers can post mentor texts and discuss why they are effective.
Talk – Because they can respond to other posts, the blog is a means for students to give and receive feedback. They can also ask for help from other students or the teacher. The blog serves as a tool to talk about the writing process. Positive comments made by the teacher about a students work can be seen by all.
My role as the Media Specialist is to set up the blog for the teacher, show students how to use it, and brainstorm with the teacher about ways that it can be used in the classroom.
Photo from Tech4Learning.com
This past week I followed the Two Writing Teachers blog series, Writing About Reading. I am always looking for ways to incorporate technology in the Media Center and I think that I can slightly adapt some of the lessons to address both technology literacy and traditional literacy goals that I have for the library.
Dana Murphy blogged about an Amiee Buckner strategy where students lift (copy) a line from the text and then write about it. A student might describe why he chose it, what language he noticed, questions he has, what he visualized, etc… This would be an awesome blogging opportunity for our second grade students as they are starting to use Kidblog. Students would a type the lifted line and then “free write” about it as a blog post. I am definitely going to try this!
Dana also wrote about a visual note taking method that she read about on the A Year of Reading blog. Visual noting taking incorporates quotes, keywords, and images. I like this idea, because it seems to reflect the students connection to and understanding of the topic, better than traditional note taking. To incorporate technology, I would have students use an iPad drawing app such as Pixie (see image above) during a library read aloud. A picturebook Biography might work well. They could share their thinking by projecting their iPad creations on a Smartboard using AirServer.
Besty Hubbard shared a collaborative project between GRK and GR1 students. Kindergartners wrote a class letter to First Grade about a favorite Mo William book. Each first grader selected their own favorite and worked in a group with like-minded students to list the reasons for the choice. Next they responded to the GRK students. Technology could incorporated by having the GR1 students post their choice book and reasons for choosing it on Kidblog. This would not only give them an audience, but also allow them to have an opportunity to practice being good Digital Citizens as they collaborated with and responded to each other.
There were so many great ideas in the Writing about Reading series and I am a little sad that the week is over. No worries! There is an online Twitter Chat, Monday, Feb 3, from 8:30-9:30. Hashtag #TWTBlog